Well, we’ve really done it now – we’ve quit our jobs (or “retired”) in order to start on the Big Adventure that we’ve been talking about for so long!
March 4th was the last day of our employment at Xerox, and the rhythm of our daily lives has changed quite a bit since then. In a way, it’s like we’re living a *really long* weekend. It still hasn’t completely sunk in, that we aren’t going back “any day now”. We keep pinching ourselves and reminding each other that rush hour still happens – only now it’s on days when we’re at home.
Our social life has remained pretty active, in part because we know that time is short to nurture relationships with many of our friends in Portland. Sometimes we get together knowing that we’re really saying goodbye, but other times we think that the relationships are sturdy enough to survive the protracted distances. I guess time will tell which is which.
And there will most certainly be surprises. As with so many facets of life, it is not really possible to predict. It’s sometimes a bit unsettling, even though we both recognize that this was part of what we have signed up for.
As we planned, we’ve been very busy working around the boat to assure we’re seaworthy in just a few more weeks. We are immersed in what seems like a myriad of projects, at various stages of completion. We’re still unable to tell whether we’re on track for an early June departure or hopelessly unprepared. We have lists but the sub-tasks of each of the projects seem too numerous to enumerate and everything takes so much longer than anticipated. We both vascillate between exuberance and feeling overwhelmed but since we’re not on the same cadence we can generally encourage each other. Kathy’s friend Wayne sagely advised us to try to focus on only three projects at a time, to reduce the “deer in the headlights” sense of not knowing where to start. Here are the three biggest projects right now:
– We’ve been replacing all of the standing rigging, the wires that support the boat’s two masts, two or three lines at a time. Whenever there’s a break in the weather, Kathy puts on her climbing harness and Dan cranks her
to the top of the mast. He loosens a cable using the turnbuckle at the
bottom, and she detaches the fitting at the top and lowers the line to the deck. When she is done and comes back down, we coil them up and take them to the rigging shop to clean the fittings up and replace the cable. Our type of rigging uses connections called spelter sockets and which are also used on suspension bridges. The cable is inserted into the bottom of a fitting that is like an open funnel, with a turnbuckle attached to the top wide end. The strands of the cable are splayed out, and then molten zinc is poured into the funnel, binding with the cable’s strands to prevent them from sliding out the bottom. The shop takes roughly a week to do each batch of cables, and we had about 20 to do. We took down the last three on Saturday. The final one was a bit trickier than all the others. It connects the top of the two masts together (we just recently learned that it’s called a “triatic stay” – always new vocabulary in the marine environment!). We took a rope from the top of one mast up to the top of the other, tied it off, and then winched it tight, taking the pressure off the cable. Then Kathy was able to remove it and lower it down. She noticed in the nick of time that the main sail was suspended from the same shackle, and needed to be removed first. Whew!
– Another project, which is halfway done but keeps morphing from one phase to the next, is the updating of the anchor rode, from all-rope to half-rope/half-chain. We’ve done that part, but then we needed to update the windlass so that it had a chain-wheel in addition to the smooth cyinders used for rope. Then we realized that in order to get a good “bite” on the chain, we would need to have it drop straight down instead of pulling it out to the side to pile on the deck. So we bored a hole through the deck and built out a chain locker in what used to be the very front part of two very tiny staterooms. These rooms used to each have two single-size bunk beds. We’ve gutted that space and are rebuilding it to have one
(sorta) double-size bed and a lot of storage underneath. We actually hired out the structural part of that job to Firehouse Boatworks, an outfit that has helped us with several of the projects that we’ve needed to get done.
Now we’re picking that job back up, finishing the space. We’ve covered the floor with more of the jatoba tongue-and-groove flooring that we bought last year. Now we’re building out the storage space, where we’re gonna keep the scuba tanks. And the saga continues…
– The third project that we’ll share with you this week is the installation of our solar panels. Dan has been researching these for months, even years, and we finally decided that the time was ripe. We purchased 4 panels to be shipped to us at the Xerox dock just before we left. It was definitely the 11th hour – they arrived at noon on the Friday that we were leaving! To complicate matters, Dan’s car had given up the ghost the week before (and Kathy’s Honda Insight was not a good choice to carry the panels home). Kathy’s dear friend Ron loaned us his big old pickup truck to bring them to the boat on Friday, and we traded vehicles for the weekend. What a breeze that made things! We got the panels safely down the 25 steps to the marina docks and around the 5 corners without mishap. They’ve been sitting safely on the deck for the last week as we design the mounting system and lay the foundation. (In the meantime, Ron detailed the Insight and found a buyer, and we purchased a small pickup to use for the next 3 months. It doesn’t get any easier!) We’ve decided to hang the panels in each of the 4 corners of the boat (OK, use your imagination). They’ll hang from the top lifeline, so we’ve replaced all of the rope lifelines with galvanized cable, to better support the weight. We’ve bought most of the material to fabricate the mounting system, and expect to spend the next week or so doing that work. This will require Dan to brush up on his aluminum welding skills. If only the weather would clear long enough for us to spend this time outdoors…
This period is a very busy one for us, but we don’t expect life to always be so full. Other cruisers have described this time as being intensely stressful, and sure enough we’re not immune. But we keep reminding ourselves that all of this is just part of our lives, and we can approach it joyfully or miserably – and that choice is clear!
We’ve had a couple exciting updates to our departure plans: Dan’s father David and sister Aria are planning to share some time with us as we leave Seattle and head north. David will be with us for a couple of weeks, probably heading home from Port Hardy at the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Aria will stay a while longer, perhaps as much as a year, traveling up to Alaska and down to Mexico. Both are delightfully welcome additions to the journey!
And to all who have expressed concern regarding our itinerary, please be assured that we have no intention of making a bee-line for Somalia. 🙂
That’s it for now, until next time – Kathy & Dan